After El Hierro, La Gomera is the smallest island in the Canary Archipelago, with a surface area of 378 kilometres squared.
Almost circular in shape, it has a diameter from East to West of some 25 kilometres, taking as a point of reference the western (Punta de la Calera) and eastern (Punta de San Cristóbal) ends. The distance between the northern (Punta de Los Organos) and southern (Punta del Becerro) ends is 22 kilometres. The maximum height is reached at Pico Alto de Garajonay, at 1.487 m, and the coastline measures 90 kilometres.
The origins of the name of the island of La Gomera stems from a legend that takes us back to biblical times to a son of Jafet, in turn the son of Noah, who was named Gomer.
In 1492, the bay of San Sebastián de La Gomera was converted into the final port of call towards a great gesture that would change the course of History : the discovery of the new world. Christopher Colombus' stay preceded the visits of other illustrious navigators, such as Hernán Cortés, Francisco Pizarro or Vasco Núñez de Balboa.
Few places in the world display the natural wealth of La Gomera, which hides genuine ecological treasures increased by their singular prehistoric nature. This craggy island means that the lay of the land is composed of a raised relatively flat central area, the plateau, which presents an undulating relief and descends to approximately 800 m. A group of very deep ravines in the north, and relatively flat in the south - the hillocks - descend radially towards the Atlantic. In the lower section, the main ravines open up like valleys, in some cases. At the mouth of these ravines lie the beaches of the island, which alternate with the more numerous cliffs that make up the coastline. As for the climate, La Gomera is somewhat damp, thanks to the stagnation over the heights of the sea of clouds, which has encouraged the existence of the most important areas of monteverde (green mountain) forest in the Canary Islands. This is a genuine rainforest.
La Gomera is the only island in the archipelago where there have been no modern day volcanic eruptions, concretely for the last two million years. As a result, erosion has been more continuous, and so the distinctive relief, spectacular crags and rock fortresses, and the ravines have become an essential part of the landscape.
GARAJONAY NATIONAL PARK
The monteverde (green mountain) formations spread over some 6.000 hectares in the island of La Gomera. 2.000 hectares correspond to degraded woods or shrub-like formations of Canary Wax Myrtle and tree heath that form a ring around a very well preserved wooded nucleus of some 4.000 hectares
The whistling language of La Gomera, which is known as "silbo gomero", originated in the communication problems derived from the mountainous make-up of a good part of the island territory, covered in some areas by thick woodland and with enormous distances between the sides of the valleys. Chipude is one of the traditional nuclei where the silbo is preserved. So that tradition may not be lost, special courses in silbo are taught at local schools.
At the tourist Parador (state run hotel) and at Las Rosas and La Zula restaurants you may see demonstrations of this peculiar system of communication, which "is not (...) limited to conventional signs. It enables you to express all kinds of thoughts and articulate all kinds of words".
The base of traditional economy in La Gomera has always been the same as the rest of the islands, agriculture for consumption on the island and for export.This type of exploitation of the land was introduced after colonization of the island, taking into account the situation of springs and humidity in the middle regions, when locating plantations. In this way crops grow in valleys and ravines that have water and humid areas allow for the developement of dry farming. This means that the population is not evenly, divided, being situated mainly in the main valleys to the north of the island. Valle Gran Rey and Playa Santiago have only began to be developed this century.The main crops of dry farming are cereals and pulses (peas, beans, lentils, etc.), potatoes and certain fruits such as grapes. On irrigated land crops have changed progressively from sugar cane back in the XVJ and XVII centuries to tomatoes, potatoes and crops for local consumption such as corn and fruits, even bananas in the XX century. During the 1960's cultivation was threatened, firstly due to emigration and later due to the increase in transport, communications and the tourist industry which nowaday comprises the main economy of La Gomera.
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